The End of the Beginning
25 November 2022
In the end, it would always come down to this…I finished the first full draft of Bluejay Rises this morning.
That doesn’t mean the book’s finished. (See this post’s title.) What it does mean is that it exists as a completed work.
What happens now?
- I let it marinate for a couple of weeks while I do other things (such as catching up on blog and Insta posts).
- Then I format the manuscript as the text block for a trade paperback. It’s not hard; I’ve figured out the settings after building seven other paperbacks. Then I print it out.
- I edit the paper copy. Why not the electronic copy? Because after months and months staring at this on a screen, I don’t see it anymore. On paper, it’s in a different format and on a different medium. I’m looking at it like a new product. With any luck, I’ll find more problems to solve.
- Once I’m done with the paper edit, I send the result to alpha readers. These are usually other authors whose judgement I trust. An alpha read is like an alpha release of software — the point is to see if the thing runs and it doesn’t have any incurable bugs. For this alpha read, I want to find out basic stuff: does the story work? Is the narrative pace appropriate? Does it satisfy genre expectations? Is there any material that will turn off genre readers? Is it structured well? Do the characters present appropriately? This phase usually identifies the largest problems I’ll have to solve.
- I incorporate the alpha feedback, then send the electronic copy out to beta readers. Beta readers are usually genre readers who are able to look analytically at a story. This is where I get the civilian view of the story. Do they like it? Do they like (or hate, as appropriate) the characters? Is there too little/too much/enough action/peril/romance? What throws them out of the story? And for a historical, the all-important: do they feel the story brings them into the period in an authentic way?
- I take all this input and do another paper edit. This is where I hope to catch all the errors I introduced by fixing the other problems.
How long will all this take?
This will most likely take several months. At the end of that, I have a decision: do I query agents about it, or do I publish it myself? This is supposed to be a hot subgenre (historical mystery/espionage with a female lead, 20th century interwar/WWII, in case you’re keeping track), and agents are supposedly looking for new material. We’ll see.
I’ll keep you posted. If you read this genre and would like to be a beta reader, drop me a line through the contact form and I’ll add you to my list.